Ashila Wangdi with her daughter

“I haven’t hugged my daughter in a week’s time. It is very emotional for all the healthcare professionals. So, I urge you all to please save yourself, save your family and please save the health professionals.”

There are millions from the service sectors like doctors, nurses, hospital staff, and countless other professionals who are risking their lives to be on duty, with no work from home possible. One such ‘corona fighter’ is Ashila Wangdi who has been on the frontline in the battle against the deadly virus. She works with the National Health Service in the United Kingdom that has been in the line of fire for the past nine days.

Ashila has her roots in Sikkim and is a clinical specialist neuro-physiotherapist working at the North Middlesex University Hospital in London. Her hospital has seen a large number of COVID-19 cases in the past nine days.

“For the last nine days, we’ve had an explosion in COVID-19 positive cases. It is chaotic. We have never seen anything like this before. So, we have discharged all our medical patients — be it stroke, neuro, etc. I am a clinical specialist neuro-physiotherapist, which now doesn’t mean anything because we are expected to do everything and anything. Our roles will be diluted. We will be expected to go onto ITUs. We will have to help the nurses and the consultants there. Our wards are now being changed into COVID wards. We have about 46 patients as of today and we have 36 suspected cases which probably will turn into COVID. That means 100 patients and we have not reached the surge of the peak yet. We will be reaching the surge in the next coming weeks so could go up to 200 to 300 patients. We don’t know,” she said.

Ashila Wangdi works at the North Middlesex University Hospital in London which has seen a substantial increase in COVID-19 cases in the past nine days

“The reason I am here today is to let you know that is not just a simple flu. It is taking lives; it is life threatening. If anybody is thinking that it is the disease of the old and the younger ones will be spared, that is not true. It looks like the virology has changed. In China it was slightly different, by the time it has come to Italy it is behaving differently and obviously now we are seeing quite a few young patients,” she said.

“So, the young people who are going out thinking that, I will probably be alright, that is not true. Having said that, the other major impact of the young people going out and about is coming back home and giving it to your parents, your grandparents, the vulnerable and sick people. People who are undergoing chemotherapy, who have immune suppressed conditions. So please stay at home,” she added.

Ashila Wangdi with her family

“Hospitals in the UK are overwhelmed, inundated, shocked already and this is just the beginning. In India, I don’t know how the situation would be. The density is thicker. People live in really closed premises. So you need to be even more careful of what is happening around you and maintain a 2-metre/6-foot distance at all time. The safest thing to do is to treat everybody positive,” said Ashila.

“I know I am sounding like an alarmist but this not something that we can take lightly. It’s a pandemic. It is taking lives. Death rates in Italy has gone to thousands. UK is two weeks behind Italy and there are so many people telling so many things. Videos are going viral; people are explaining the magnitude of this situation. If now people don’t listen, then God only help. We at the health services are putting our lives at risk,” she said.

“I cannot take the credit personally because obviously I haven’t been to the ITUs yet but who knows when I will be deployed what I have to be doing in the next few days, few weeks, few months. My life as of now I work in the acute stroke unit. So I have quite a few patients there who are COVID positive,” she said.

“I haven’t hugged my daughter in a week’s time. It is very emotional for all the health professionals. So I urge you all to please save yourself, save your family and please save the healthcare professionals. Stay at home, this is a pandemic, it is not a normal flu and the worst part of it is that it spreads like wildfire. It goes to, 2, 4, 6, 8, 10, 100, 1000 in no time. Please understand. Thank you,” she added.

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